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Borough Council election may be headed for recount in Eatontown

EATONTOWN – A recount is being sought in the race for two three-year terms on the Eatontown Borough Council.

The two available terms in the Nov. 3 election were sought by Republicans James Corcoran and Mark Regan and Democrats Mariel Hufnagel and Danielle Jones.

Regan was the only incumbent council member on the ballot.

When the election results were certified by the Monmouth County Board of Elections on Nov. 20, Jones emerged as the top vote-getter with 3,250 votes and Regan received the second most votes, 3,228.

Hufnagel received 3,218 votes and trailed Regan by 10 votes. Corcoran received 3,105 votes, according to results posted online by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office.

On Nov. 19, the day before the election results were certified, Hufnagel filed a petition in New Jersey Superior Court seeking a recount and a recheck of the ballots that had been cast for the council seats.

According to the petition, Hufnagel believes there was a mistake in the count of votes which could be the result of a miscount or a failure to count certain provisional ballots or other ballots that were cast.

The petition states that 81 votes were rejected for various reasons. It is currently unknown
whether additional provisional ballots or other ballots were submitted, but voided or not counted.

Through the petition, Hufnagel is seeking to have a manual recount and recheck of the ballots that were cast, as well as a manual count of the absentee/provisional ballots cast and rejected ballots.

A response to the petition was submitted by the Monmouth County Board of Elections on Nov. 23. The board is requesting that if a recount is ordered, it occur after Dec. 11, the date by which the election audit must be completed.

“The board must be focused on preparing and conducting the statutorily required election audit in accordance with the mandatory deadline,” the Board of Elections said in its response. “Thus, it is requested that the recount be ordered after the board has met the mandated deadline for the election audit.”

The board’s response also states that counting rejected ballots is relief outside of the scope of a recount petition. Citing statute, the board’s response asserts that a recount only requires a judge to order that one be made; challenging votes that were rejected is in the framework of an election contest that requires more involvement from the court.

On the six-member Eatontown Borough Council, Republicans hold five seats and Democrats hold one seat. The mayor’s office is held by independent Anthony Talerico.

Republicans took control of the previously all-Democratic governing body this year after a series of resignations from Democratic council members led to Republicans winning five available seats in the 2019 municipal election.

If Jones and Regan are declared the winners of the 2020 municipal election, Republicans will hold a 4-2 majority on the council in 2021.

If Jones and Hufnagel are declared the winners of the 2020 municipal election, there will be a 3-3 split on the council in 2021.

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